Following a public consultation tougher new sentencing guidelines are to be introduced in respect of offences involving dangerous dogs.
The guidelines, which are to come into effect in August 2012, are intended to ensure that the courts make full use of their sentencing powers. The Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 created a number of offences including allowing a dog to be dangerously out of control and possessing a prohibited dog.
Convictions and Imprisonment
In recent years there have been a number of high profile incidents involving dangerous dogs and there has also been an increase in the number of convictions for these types of offences. The courts have a full range of sentencing powers when dealing with these cases including in the most serious cases a sentence of up to two years imprisonment.
Anne Arnold, a member of the Sentencing Council, said
“..this new sentencing guideline encourages courts to use their full powers when dealing with offenders so that they are jailed where appropriate. It also gives guidance to courts on making best use of their powers so that people can be banned from keeping dogs, genuinely dangerous dogs can be put down and compensation can be paid to victims.”
Since its introduction, the legislation in this area has been subject to much criticism. It is to be hoped that these guidelines might at least ensure that the courts adopt a more consistent approach to these cases.